slice of berry pie

Adipic acid is an ingredient used in pie filling for structure and tartness.

Adipic Acid

What is Adipic Acid?

Adipic acid is a leavening agent in baked products. It is also used as an agent for flavoring, pH control, and neutralizing of other foods.


Adipic acid naturally occurs in sugar cane and beets. Commercially, it is produced via chemical reaction by nitric acid oxidation of cyclohexanol or cyclohexanone or a mixture of the two.

Chemical structure of adipic acid baking ingredients


Adipic acid is an excellent slow-acting leavening agent.1 It neutralizes sodium bicarbonate and releases carbon dioxide. Its neutralization value is 115, which means that 115 grams of sodium bicarbonate are needed to neutralize 100 grams of adipic acid.2

Adipic acid can substitute for citric acid and tartaric acid. Among these three organic acids, only adipic acid is non-hygroscopic.3 This is one reason that it is used as an acidulant in commercial baking powders to replace cream of tartar or tartaric acid.1 As cream of tartar, it can increase the whipping quality of products containing egg white.1 Adipic acid also functions to contribute a sweet, tart flavor in imitation flavor extracts, gelatin, dressings, and oils.


When used as the acidulant in chemical leavening systems to neutralize sodium bicarbonate, the amount of adipic acid needed follows the equation: adipic acid (g) = (sodium bicarbonate (g)/115 (neutralization value))100.2 For refrigerated dough systems, the working range for sodium bicarbonate is 1.68⇭–2.10 g/100 g. The maximum level recommended for baked goods and baked mixes is 0.05%.1

The effectiveness of leavening systems made with sodium bicarbonate as a leavening acidulant is less than that of glucono delta-lactone (GDL) or potassium acid tartrate, but better than that of sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP).2

FDA regulation

Adipic acid is regulated GRAS by the FDA in article 21CFR184.1009 in the Code of Federal Regulations.3 Its usage in baked goods should not exceed 0.05%.3


  1. Smith, J., and L. Hong-Shum. Food Additives Data Book. 2nd ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  2. Bellido, G.G., et al. “Measurement of Dough Specific Volume in Chemically Leavened Dough Systems.” Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 49, no. 2, 2009, pp. 212–218, doi:10.1016/j.jcs.2008.10.002.
  3. Horn, H.J., et al. “Safety of Adipic Acid as Compared with Citric and Tartaric Acid.” Food Additives, vol. 5, no. 10, Oct. 1957, pp. 759–762.
  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “21CFR184.1009 – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.”, 1 Apr. 2017, Accessed 14 Sept. 2017.